June 2024 Alumni Spotlights: Howard “Dutch” Vigar (NAHS ’68) & Gary Libs (FCHS ’69)

June 2024 Alumni Spotlights: Howard “Dutch” Vigar (NAHS ’68) & Gary Libs (FCHS ’69)

This month’s Alumni Spotlight is a heartwarming Father’s Day tribute! 🧡Read about Dutch Vigar and Gary Libs, two incredible fathers who have left lasting legacies in coaching, education, and community service. From swimming pools to paving roads, their stories are filled with dedication, love, and pride. Let’s celebrate their journeys and the impact they’ve made on their families and beyond.

Alumni Spotlight from the June 2024 Legacy Ledger:

Alumni Spotlight Header

 

This is pure speculation, but maybe many of you readers share the notion that summer is off to a very fast pace this year. Perhaps it’s the weather… or it could be that graduation for the class of ’24 has attracted more attention… especially for our NAHS and FCHS grads from 2020. At colleges and universities all across America, they finally got a “proper” commencement. It must have felt good since the pandemic “stole” some of their high school celebrations four years ago. Let’s hope that the decade of “the 20’s” can be known for something else now.

From the perspective of Alumni Spotlight, it also felt good to launch this new tradition for May and June. If you happened to miss our Mother‘s’ Day issue, please take a moment to look it over. As a “twin” to that issue, we follow it this month with two fathers and sons, with their own touching tributes. Here’s wishing all of you a very Happy Father’s Day!

Introduction by Rex Bickers, FCHS ‘70

HOWARD “DUTCH” VIGAR HeadshotPlease allow me to introduce my dad, Dutch Vigar, for this special Fathers’ Day issue of Legacy Ledger. What a privilege I’ve had, following in his footsteps as a coach and educator. It’s brought me such pride to experience each and every accolade he’s received.

My wife and I now have two daughters who get to call him their grandfather, or “Pee-Paw” as they prefer to say. Dad earned a lot of “titles” at NAHS: teacher, coach, dean of students. He cherishes the title of grandfather the most.

If Dad wrote this profile, he’d want to tell you about growing up as a New Albany boy. My dad was born here, and so was his father, Henry Vigar. I was just five years old when my grandfather died, so I didn’t know him. Even so, I’m sure Dad thinks back on his childhood fondly. He went to Mt. Tabor and Hazelwood before becoming a Bulldog. He swam for Coach Bill Shadbourne and made varsity all three years. He completed his undergraduate degree at IU Bloomington, earning a teaching license (secondary education) with a major in biology.

Swimming was in my dad’s blood from his pre-teens literally up to today. So, it’s not too surprising that some of my earliest memories were of walking with my dad on the deck of a swimming pool. He began his career at New Albany coaching the girls’ swim team. Between the girls’ and boys’ teams, he served as swim coach for a total of 48 seasons.

He developed what became an ever-increasing interest in soccer, beginning from my earliest years in grade school. The club soccer arena grew to be a major focus of his passion for the sport, and he was intensely devoted to the league, now known as Southern Indiana United (more often called simply SIU).

The year after I graduated from high school, he took the leap to become New Albany’s head soccer coach. In his first seven years, he was named Hoosier Hills All-Conference Coach of the Year four times. He continued to coach the Bulldogs in soccer until 2016.

In “retirement” he took on just as much responsibility as he had when he was teaching full-time. It was a short chapter, lasting less than two years… when he was called back to serve as interim athletic director. He simultaneously stepped back into swimming and (boy’s) soccer as head coach of both. Within a year he became Dean of Students, and he served in that position through 2017.

He never could drown out the call of coaching. It continued to beckon him; only this time he focused on adults. He conducted soccer coaching education courses across Kentuckiana, on both sides of the river. At SIU, he was a leader in developing coaching certification programs. By 2019, the Indiana Soccer Association bestowed on my dad the Indiana Director of Coaching of the Year Award.

With the end of the 2024 school year, Dad has retired (again) from coaching at NAHS. Maybe this time it really is for good. I’m pretty sure, though, that it will have little or no impact on his disciplined regime of weightlifting, with 5 to 10 thousand yards/week of swimming and 20+ miles/week of running.

Dad’s accomplishments in career and in life have certainly been amazing. Yet nothing brings me more pride than saying this: he is extremely loving, generous, and completely selfless. If I have patterned my life after his in my professional pursuits, that’s a small part of the big picture. He has eclipsed all that with the example he has set for me, as a father. That side of my dad is the man I aspire to be.

Prepared by guest contributor Ben Vigar, NAHS ‘95
Teacher at New Albany Floyd County School Corporation

Gary Libs Headshot

It’s so rewarding to tell you about my dad, Gary Libs. He has always been a phenomenal family man. For most of my life, Fathers’ Day was a day when my dad showed his love and respect for his own dad, Raymond Libs. The tight bonds of our multi-generation family have been a source of pride to my dad, greater than anything.

My dad was rooted in “life coaching” that came from hard farm work, alongside his dad. My mom came from a big farm family also. For both Mom and Dad, their parents encouraged them plenty to try something new. None of our grandparents ever suggested that farming had to be their pathways.

Straight out of high school, Dad went to work off the family farm, with a local paving contractor. Soon, he wanted to move on and put his own ideas to work. At age 20, he started Libs Paving, going quickly from residential driveways to bigger projects. Dad grew a highly capable team with the skills needed for subdivisions, large commercial parking lots and more.

I graduated from IU in 1995. Dad was eager to have me master it all, while he kept expanding his horizons. Dad always had lots of irons in the fire. He added ownership of an asphalt plant, supplying material for our jobs and other paving companies also. He kept up, nonstop, learning about advanced equipment, the trucks needed for major hauling and other heavy machinery.

The success of Libs Paving grew from two core values: good people and good decision-making. Mom and Dad both taught us what they lived. First, strong people skills are vital to having a talented and dedicated workforce. It doesn’t happen by itself. Secondly, attention to detail leads to making the right decisions. That can make the best employees even better. My dad has always had a good grasp of risks and rewards. It includes the proper use of outside expertise for planning and financing of new capital expenditures.

Dad uses the term “street smarts” for his unique combination of business skills. Some came from his career; some from his community service. He gave of himself endlessly to local non-profit organizations; equally, he helped support countless needs in public and parochial education.

He never set out to become a bank director. The job found him at Your Community Bank, incorporated in 1991. He was named Vice-Chair of the board by 2002; he became board Chairman in 2011. This experience prepared him for an incredible new page in our community’s history. It went far beyond anything that Dad might have ever anticipated: providing for St Mary of the Knobs well into the future.

He was one of a handful of parish leaders who put together an amazing capital campaign. It raised over eleven million dollars. Engaging hundreds of local families produced a result that exceeded anyone’s imagination. It funded the construction of a new church, a connected multi-purpose activities center, parish hall and offices. The impact will be felt for generations to come.

New chapters in Dad’s life just keep on coming. In 2015, he was inducted into Floyd Central’s Hall of Fame. He helped guide the merger/acquisition of Your Community Bank by its new parent company WesBanco in 2016; he has remained on the WesBanco Board of Directors through 2024. He continues his mentorship and legacy at Libs Paving as Chairman of the Board. Additionally, our family’s full “flock of 19” got to see him receive the Chancellor’s Medallion Award from IU Southeast, earlier this year.

Setting aside his service to our parish and so much more, my dad’s crowning achievement comes solely from his partnership with my mom Sandy and the family they’ve created. On a very personal level, Dad, I am eternally grateful for everything you’ve instilled in me.

Prepared by guest contributor Jeff Libs, FCHS ‘91

Read the complete June 2024 Legacy Ledger

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